“Many aliens cross the border everyday.” About four years ago, that was probably the most frightening statement that I could ever hear. At the time, I was a naÃ¯ve and curious teenager who had difficulty understanding that aliens could cross the American border into Canada. Retrospectively, I laugh at this experience, but am also glad that I kept my mind open because I learned numerous things.
After being made aware of the fact that “alien” was another word for foreigner, I was able to start a journey with my family that I will never forget. When my family and I arrived in Canada we had the pleasure of seeing the Niagara Falls. This magnificent waterfall was breathtaking and as the pristine waters cascaded over the crest, I could not help but be mesmerized by its beauty. I learned how the Iroquois were the first to settle in the area and how Niagara was culturally rich.I also learned how the east bank of the Niagara River played a large part in the American Revolution. Before visiting Canada, I would have never fathomed how important and interesting the Niagara River and Niagara Falls were.
Throughout the trip, I was amazed that I did not have to adapt to a difficult culture. Day to day tasks in Canada are taken care of similarly to those in America. Most Canadians in the area spoke English; however, I did enjoy trying to decipher French. Also, I found it interesting how Canadians had different names for things. For instance, I learned that a Loonie was a dollar, because the Canadian dollar, which is a coin, has a loon on the back. I fondly remember being able to understand some Canadian “slang” at the end of the trip and was proud to educate my friends about it when I got home. However, one thing my family and I had to adapt to was the Goods and Services Tax. This was probably the quickest thing I learned about when I arrived at Canada. The Goods and Services Tax put a tax on almost everything in Canada. When I was displeased by the tax, I found it quite relieving and humorous to see the natives bickering over the tax, as well.
Thankfully, the Canadians made my family’s trip enjoyable by being incredibly friendly and welcoming.Some natives were even willing to teach us their culture and were overjoyed when we were excited to listen. These Canadians were of Algonquin descent and were proud to tell their story. They spoke of how Europeans had mistreated their ancestors and took their land. However, their tribe did not let the destruction of their homes destroy their culture, which is why the friendly natives told their story. I thought it was terrible that their ancestors were harmed by Europeans, but their hopeful and courageous story gave me a fresh perspective of those around me.
As my week-long vacation to Canada came to an end, I remember looking back at the first day that I had arrived there. Which started as a frightening trip, had evolved into an amazing experience that I will always cherish. When I returned home, it was difficult to explain to my friends how a trip to Canada changed me, but I know that the wonderful memories and remarkable lessons will stay with me forever. As the Algonquians say, maajaashin and wenjida Canada!
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